The Terminal: Israel to Edinburgh via Milan. August 15-25th

Ok, where did I leave off? Ah, Israel. So during my stay in Israel, I visited Jerusalem where we visited the Western Wall, the holiest site in the world. Being a somewhat cynical New Yorker who never really embraced religion, I wasn’t sure what to expect. However, when I arrived to the site and began walking towards the wall I was overwhelmed with an indescribable sensation that rippled through my body- more spiritual than physical- and I was overcome with emotion. It is true what they say- there is something about that spot in the world and by feeling it, I now believe it. The rest of my two weeks in Israel would be spent discussing and reflecting on religion and God and spirituality and all that good stuff, and I would make the decision to sign up for that 10 day Vipassana silent meditation retreat that I discussed earlier. I’m usually up for a challenge and thought this may be a good one, not to mention being good for the soul. So, I confirmed my participation and decided to do it. Until I read the terms and conditions: “For 10 full days, no speaking, no eye contact, no physical contact, no reading, writing, snacking, smoking, no wearing of clothing that could be distracting to the opposite sex” (no I am not making that up, that is an actual rule). Furthermore, the schedule would include waking up at 4:30am to begin meditating until 9:30pm when we would retire to our rooms for sleep. So, I decided my soul was okay as it was and cancelled my reservation. I will meditate in silence at another time. So, after a total of two weeks in the beautiful holy land, I finally said goodbye to Meital and her family and headed off to Scotland where my mom (who I finally convinved to leave the country) would be waiting for me. Unfortunately there weren’t any direct flights from Israel to Scotland, so I had to make a stopover in Milan. Even more unfortunate was the fact that I ended up missing my connecting flight in Milan. More unfortunate still….the next flight wasn’t until the following day. So, I would spend the night in the Milan Malpensa airport. Ok, this could be an adventure, I thought. Who knows who I’ll meet or what I’ll experience. First stop, ATM machine, cause you can’t do much in the airport without a bit of cash. Next stop- food, cause what else are you gonna do in the airport. Then, a trip to the airport bookstore where I would buy the latest UK issue of Glamour and a cheap mystery novel (the only book available in English). So, throughout the day, I ate, drank coffee, wrote, window shopped, read UK Glamour about 3 times, met a taxi driver who invited me out to a spaghetti dinner – who I respectfully turned down-, was yelled at by a bathroom attendant for taking too long in the stall (lady, have you HAD airport food?!), and spent the rest of the day scouting out a location for sleep. Milan Malpensa airport is pretty large. There are at least 3 floors in Terminal 2, so lots of sleeping options. As it began to get a bit late, I approached a couple of nice looking airport security officers to see if they had any suggestions as to where I should sleep. Maybe there was a secret dorm or some really comfy couches somewhere that I wasn’t aware of. “Bonjourno Senor. I’m hoping that you could help me. I’m going to be spending the night here and I was wondering if you had any suggestions as to where I should sleep.” The nice gentleman exchanged some words with each other in Italian and finally replied, “Yes, Madam, you can go downstairs to the tourist information desk and they can give you a listing of places.” Oh, he thinks I mean a hotel. Silly man. “No, sir, you don’t understand. I don’t need a hotel. I will be sleeping here in the airport and was wondering if you could point out any comfortable sleeping spots.” Blank stare. “Oh. Um, you could try the second floor, by check-in”, he replied. “Oh great, thank you so much. Bonjourno!” Ooh, what’s on the second floor I wondered? Nothing. Just a bunch of chairs, which normally would work; however, these were the chairs with the armrests in between them, making it impossible to lie across them, unless you contorted your body in just the right position, getting your legs either under or over the armrests, which I did. I lasted about an hour until I noticed some dodgy looking character pacing back and forth one too many times. That’s when I decided to try the 1st floor. It was much more crowded and I think I remember seeing what looked like big comfy chairs outside of a restaurant. I was right. There were big chairs in front of a restaurant (which was now closed, being it was the middle of the night), but they were not comfy. Nonetheless, I made the best of it and ended up falling into a deep sleep in a somewhat bearable position. Until I was awoken by buzzing. A fly kept buzzing in my ear. I swapped it away, yet it kept coming back until I finally woke up and realized I was swarmed by flies! It didn’t make sense until I remembered that I had finished the bag of caramel popcorn that Meital packed for me right before I fell asleep and the flies must have smelled it. Oy. Oh well, its almost 5am, I have to wake up soon anyway. This time I will NOT miss my flight! Scotland, here I come.

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